11 Minutes of reading
How to improve the completion rate of your blended learning course
An e-learning course is only effective if the majority of learners who enrol on it actually see it through to completion – yet retaining learners’ attention and keeping them actively engaged is notoriously more difficult with a distance learning course. Studying alone and having to deal with unwanted distractions (whether at work or at home) are just two reasons why learners tend to abandon distance learning courses before completing them.
Improving the “completion rate” of a module is therefore crucial to ensure that it is successful and impactful. This can be achieved by employing different techniques to engage learners, including by offering a diverse and interactive range of content.
A blended learning approach, which combines distance learning with in-person learning, is an ideal format to ensure that participants remain invested in a course and feel motivated enough to see it through to completion.
So, let’s take a look at how blended learning can help you to improve your course’s completion rate.
What does completion rate mean?
The access rate, which corresponds to the number of learners that have started a training course, is a useful indicator in itself, but can be misleading if you want to know how well your target learners are engaging with the course. In fact, many learners will abandon a training course part way through unless they have sufficient supervision.
That’s why your dashboard must incorporate other indicators, starting with the completion rate.
Completion and success rates
The completion rate represents the proportion of learners who have completed a training course. It’s up to the instructional designer to define what exactly constitutes the end of the course and therefore determine whether or not a participant has completed the course.
“Completing” a course might involve:
- Consulting all of the available modules;
- Taking an assessment at the end of the course;
- Filling out a feedback form
It’s important to point out that the completion rate is different to the success rate. The success rate indicates the proportion of learners who pass the assessments at the end of the training course.
The difference between the completion rate and the success rate therefore reflects the proportion of learners who finish the training course but fail the skills assessment. If the difference between these two indicators is too high, this is typically a sign that the course is not as effective as it should be and could be made clearer or more accessible.
What is a good completion rate for e-learning?
The completion rate for e-learning is not the same across the board and, in reality, can vary considerably depending on the specific type of training course.
The completion rate largely depends on:
- Whether the proposed module is compulsory or optional: a training course made mandatory by an employer or administrative authority will clearly have a much higher completion rate than a course which learners choose to study of their own accord.
- The level of supervision: a course which is guided and supervised by a training facilitator will much more effective at engaging learners and will encourage them to apply themselves throughout the duration of the course. In contrast, a learner is more likely to drop out of a course that is completely self-study based.
Optional modules, which learners choose to enrol themselves on and study for independently, tend to have a fairly low engagement rate:
- Let’s say that 10% of employees start the course (the access rate);
- Of those, only 10% will complete it (the completion rate);
- MOOCs, for instance, have a completion rate of just 5-10%.
In other words, a training course intended for 100 people will actually only train up one person on average!
However, having learners abandon an e-learning course part way through doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. Hybrid solutions like blended learning can be an effective way to re-engage learners and help them stay focused throughout the course.
Using blended learning to improve the completion rate
New techniques in instructional design, related to blended learning, can help to keep each individual learner engaged and increase the completion rate of a training course.
Adapting the content to target learners
Preparing the course and defining the teaching objectives is an important step, ahead of the actual course creation stage. The more the content is adapted to learners’ training needs, the higher the engagement level.
To motivate learners, you need to convince them of the value that the training course has given them since they started it. It’s important to emphasise certain aspects of the skill being taught, notably the benefits that it can offer them (be it making their day-to-day work easier or saving them time).
Offering modules in a variety of formats
In the realm of training, as in other domains, variety is the spice of life. In contrast to a course comprised solely of e-learning, a blended learning approach allows learners to attend a series of in-person and virtual sessions, which is a great way to keep things interesting.
Whatever the chosen training method, the training modules should be as varied as possible in terms of the learner experience offered and teaching techniques employed. For example, you could include some – if not all – of the following:
- Audio and video content (e.g., an interview with a subject matter expert or a demo video for a new piece of software);
- Elements of gamification (e.g., by creating challenges and rewards or coming up with a points-based system where learners can “level up”);
- Serious games (simulations, hands-on training to acquire a practical skill, etc.);
- Textual content which is well spaced-out and accompanied by eye-catching illustrations – this kind of content can also be made available in PDF format so that it’s easier for learners to access remotely.
Modules that bring together sound and text are a particularly effective way to capture learners’ attention. A clear benefit of this format is that it helps learners to consolidate and retain important knowledge.
Personalising training courses with adaptive learning
Adaptive learning consists of modifying the content of a training course so that it reflects the individual needs of each individual learner. It is based on IT resources and algorithms which take into account the learner’s profile and the objectives of the training course.
An easy mistake to make is offering content that is too general. While this kind of content will allow you to target a greater number of learners, it is unlikely to get through to them on an individual level.
Applying adaptive learning techniques is an ideal way to provide each participant with the knowledge and skills they really need. Specialised software and next generation learning management systems (LMS) have the ability to analyse a skills assessment and design a training course tailored to the profile of each individual learner.
Facilitating the training effectively
Modules which are actively led by a dedicated trainer who is on hand when needed are naturally studied more than others and tend to result in learners working considerably harder. The active engagement of a training facilitator can give rise to some subtle psychological incentives among learners, such as not wanting to be a disappointment and wanting to respect the time that the trainer has invested in the course.
This results in learners being more attentive throughout the course when compared with an impersonal, self-taught module studied on an office computer. This is one of the reasons that blended learning improves the completion rate, on average, compared with 100% distance learning courses.
The facilitator should also encourage some healthy competition between participants so that they motivate one another. Applying social learning techniques, such as via online discussion forums and additional group work activities, can help to strengthen class cohesion and bridge the gaps in progress between learners.
Choosing the right tools and technological solution
Choosing the right LMS platform is crucial when it comes to ensuring that your training course has a high completion rate. There are an increasing number of solutions that allow you to monitor learners more closely and offer more engaging and personalised modules.
A solution like Rise Up, which fully takes into account the challenges and requirements of blended learning, has the following key characteristics:
- It is genuinely easy to use and makes it possible to create a tailored and highly effective training course in just a few clicks;
- It offers a high-quality user experience, along with content that is personalised to each individual learner profile and elements of interactivity and gamification;
- It has a comprehensive dashboard, enabling you to measure the success of the training course on a daily basis and detect any problems before they occur.
Defining the right KPIs and monitoring them
The LMS platform has built-in analytical tools which allow you to design a customised dashboard and monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs). Analysing each of these statistics, either in isolation or as a whole, can provide valuable learning points on whether the proposed training course is working or not, its level of difficulty, its ability to engage target learners and, above all, its ability to retain learners over the long term.
- The access rate indicates the number of users who have logged on to the course at least once.
- The completion rate, as mentioned above, reflects the proportion of learners who have completed a training course.
- The success rate supplements the completion rate by specifying the number of learners that have achieved a satisfactory score in the assessments.
- The satisfaction rate gives the instructional designer an indication as to how many participants found the training useful. If you want to improve your course, the satisfaction rate is therefore an essential measurement.
As a combination of distance and in-person learning methods, blended learning offers learners the best of both worlds, ensuring thatthey remain engaged and feel supported right up until the end of the training course.
Given the complexity involved in combining these two types of learning, using a next generation LMS platform can help to provide you with the tools you need to monitor how learners are getting on with your training course, both at a group level and individually.